Author Aaron Elkins retiring ‘skeleton detective’

PORT ANGELES — Mystery writer Aaron Elkins created “skeleton detective” Gideon Oliver 30 years ago, and now he’s putting him into retirement.

“Dying on the Vine,” will be the 18th and final book featuring the sleuthing of forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver, Elkins told the Peninsula Daily News.

“I love the guy,” Elkins said this week. But, “I’m running out of things to say without repeating myself.”

Elkins, who lives in Sequim, added that while Oliver is retiring, the author himself is going strong.

He just finished a follow-up to “A Dangerous Talent,” a mystery starring art expert Alix London in a series he created with wife, Charlotte Elkins.

As for Oliver, “I just didn’t have the heart for doing a sort of melancholy farewell tour,” Elkins said.

He plans only one reading and book signing with friends Friday at the Port Angeles library. Elkins figures he’s written about 1.5 million words about Oliver’s adventures. The first book was “Fellowship of Fear” in 1982. The character inspired a TV series in 1989.

“Dying on the Vine” is set in Italy’s Tuscany countryside with forays to Florence where Oliver looks into the apparent murder-suicide of a wine-making family patriarch and his wife.

Tuscany was a lovely place to conduct a couple of weeks of research.

“Still, for me, the best part of ‘Dying on the Vine’ was the same as it’s been for every other book: the writing,” Elkins said.

“Doesn’t sound like much, sitting alone in a room all day long staring at a computer monitor and being frustrated three-quarters of the time because you can’t get it right.

“And yet, like every other novelist I’ve ever met, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing. I guess it’s because every now and then, you do get it right, and what a pleasure that is.”

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